Now that the alleged Letterman extortionist Robert Joel Halderman has been indicted, attention turns to the other major player in the scandal: Dave.
CBS is doing its best to look as though it takes this matter–jumping one’s employees–very seriously, and based on its actions thus far, it is worried it will have to.
Dave’s allies, meanwhile, have already taken pains to note that Dave doesn’t work for CBS–he works for his own production company, Worldwide Pants–and that Dave hasn’t violated any Worldwide Pants policies.
This next phase in the drama–the did-Dave-sexually-harrass-his-employees phase–will likely be over as quickly as the Halderman phase. People can only pretend for so long to be shocked that a single TV superstar surrounded all day by beautiful women jumped some of them.
The only risk to Dave, therefore, is if one or more of these women comes forward to say she only let Dave jump her because she thought he would fire her if she didn’t.
If that happens, CBS might actually have a real problem on its hands. Because if Worldwide Pants takes the position that Dave still hasn’t violated any Worldwide Pants policies, then CBS will likely have to dispense with the silly technicality that Dave doesn’t work for CBS. At which point it will get trickier.
Brian Stelter describes CBS’s pickle in the NYT:
[Dave’s confessions] raised questions for both his company and CBS about whether his actions constituted sexual harassment or at least abuse of a power relationship over employees.
For CBS, the episode is doubly embarrassing. The network has been put in a precarious position of trying to steer clear of fallout from some highly questionable activities engaged in by its biggest star, who is experiencing his biggest surge in popularity (and ratings) in years.
At the same time, the man accused in the case, Robert Joel Halderman, known as Joe, who until last month shared a residence in Connecticut with Ms. Birkitt, is a longtime and well-respected producer for the CBS News program “48 Hours Mystery.”
Brian also notes that CBS is well aware of the position it’s in–so much so that it blacked out Dave’s confession segment from the internal broadcast of the show on Thursday.
Meanwhile, next week, we will also presumably get details on the “other side of the story,” which Joe Halderman’s attorney keeps referring to. This will presumably be that the payment was not extortion and that Dave was actually buying a screenplay treatment.
The other question, of course, is whether Stephanie Birkitt (centre), Dave’s longtime assistant and paramour, who was apparently living with Halderman in Connecticut and who did not happen to be the woman who Dave eventually married, was in any way involved.
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